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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Posnanski: KC and the little things

OK, well, I know what comes next. If you have been around the Kansas City Royals for any extended period of time, you do too. The Royals have lost 14 of their last 18 games. But more, much more, 11 of those 14 losses are by two runs or less. Oh yeah, we know what comes next.

Lots and lots and lots of talk about … the little things.

Get ready for it. There will be closed door meetings. There will be public proclamations. There will be quotes galore. People from the Royals organization will be lining up to tell us how they’ve got to start doing the little things, they can’t keep messing up the little things, they must concentrate on the little things. Those little things will become an obsession, at least for a little while. At some point manager Ned Yost will say he will not put up with players who don’t do the little things. General manager Dayton Moore will say that the team can’t panic, that it’s simply about getting those little things right. Team leaders will emerge to publicly challenge teammates to do those little things.

In a way, I agree with the Royals. Unfortunately, we have very different views of what little things actually matter most. The Royals—and, really, almost every baseball team—think of the little things as getting the bunt down, moving runners over, getting them home from third, hitting the cutoff man, getting the sure out and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these are all good things for a team to do, important in their own way. I tend to think of them like I think of the little twisty air blower above your seat on an airplane. It matters. If the plane is hot, that thing feels like an important device. But, you know, even when it’s hot, that little twisty blower doesn’t really power the plane.

The Royals are always terrible at close games. Always. They have won just 44% of their one- and two-run games since the 1994 strike, by far the worst percentage in the American League.* They have also lost by far the most blowout games of any team since 1994, but let’s focus on one problem at a time. I believe those close games DO often come down to little things, but I just happen to think those little things have little to do with bunting, productive outs or saving/gaining the extra base.

*The Yankees have won 57% of their one- and two-run games sine 1995, by far the best percentage in the AL, which could lead to a long post about about mystique and aura and more hosannas for Mariano. But not right now.

Here’s what I believe are the little things that matter. in no particular order:

Thanks to Affy.

Repoz Posted: May 25, 2013 at 09:44 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals

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   1. JRVJ Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:23 PM (#4452286)
I've been thinking about the Royals of late, and I wonder if part of the let down most fans are feeling about them (I'm not a Royals fan, but I was certainly attracted to the idea of them doing well this season) isn't because of the high expectations created by the prospect evaluation industry.

Now I'm not about to go on a rant about the prospect evaluation industry: it is what it is, and there's a market for it. But watching KC from afar, I get the impression that there should be some sort of steep penalty when evaluating players from organizations with very bad track records at developing talent.

   2. McCoy Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4452289)
OK, well, I know what comes next. If you have been around the Kansas City Royals for any extended period of time, you do too. The Royals have lost 14 of their last 18 games. But more, much more, 11 of those 14 losses are by two runs or less. Oh yeah, we know what comes next.

If the Cubs and Royals play each other is it possible for both teams to lose by 1 run?
   3. Bob Tufts Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4452292)
If only we could figure out a way to have relegation apply to MLB.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4452294)
Meh, let's all be Pirate fans instead. 29-19 is a very good stretch of baseball and they've got a dozen Marianos in their pen.

Or the Indians.

Poz's first "little thing" is a good one because it really is a little thing: lineup construction. But then it's on to walks and plate discipline. I know walks are "little things" in their way but substantially better team OBP is a "big thing." The third one is power -- a very big thing. This was good though:

They have hit two home runs since May 15. That’s as a team. TWO HOME RUNS. Only it gets even worse, both of the home runs were by 438-year-old Miguel Tejada. Yes, we chose a bad year to give up smoking. The Royals have not gotten a home run from a left-handed batter in two weeks -- which is really, really sad because the Royals came into the year worried they had TOO MUCH left-handed hitting.

Also this ... in the sillyball era, the Royals only had 3 guys who even topped 30 HR ... Gaetti with 35 in 95, Palmer with 34 in 94 and Dye with 33 in 2000. For that era, that's pretty stunning.

And, from the comments, for HW's enjoyment:

Yost sounded like a decent guy, but over 40 minutes, he said nothing that to me sounded smart about baseball. He talked about waiting for guys to get hot and how Moustakis could carry a team for 6 weeks (and had done so last year?). The one interesting thing he said was to admit that he says false things about players to “protect” them — and then proceeded to say false things about how good Hosmer and Moustakis are, how Moustakis is showing improvement, and how the hitting coaches are doing a great job.

   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 26, 2013 at 05:42 AM (#4452328)
i am actually a bit surprised that yost has not experienced more success in kc. i thought he would be a posiitve for guys like moustakis and hosmer and if you have guys who can really hit that can lead to winning despite a manager's tactical deficiencies.

that those guys have 'not' hit to me is the puzzler. and if yost isn't helping young players get their sea legs then he doesn't bring anything else to the table.

   6. bfan Posted: May 26, 2013 at 08:03 AM (#4452332)
KC's inability to win makes me sad. They feel a little snake-bit, as when things that they seem to do right just do not pan out. Hosmer, Moose, Butler and Gordon should form an amazing core of a great line-up, but 2 of them have gone in the toilet. Maybe 10 years of bad luck will turn at some point.
   7. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 26, 2013 at 09:51 AM (#4452353)
and why the h8ll is eric hosmer poking everything to left field? kid is 6'4" and 220. swing that d8mn bat already
   8. BDC Posted: May 26, 2013 at 09:59 AM (#4452359)
They're young, though, and as expected, their pitching is good. What the Royals need is what the A's came up with one year ago: DFA some of the clowns in the lineup and promote a minor-leaguer or two who will hit the snot out of the ball the rest of the way. And Bob's your uncle.
   9. Matt Welch Posted: May 26, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4452362)
Watching Hosmer yesterday just screamed out "James Loney" to me. I presume that's not an original observation, but still....
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4452406)
Hosmer, Moose, Butler and Gordon should form an amazing core of a great line-up, but 2 of them have gone in the toilet.


If those four guys had come up with the Cardinals, they'd all be All-Stars by now.
   11. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 26, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4452515)
They're young, though, and as expected, their pitching is good. What the Royals need is what the A's came up with one year ago: DFA some of the clowns in the lineup and promote a minor-leaguer or two who will hit the snot out of the ball the rest of the way. And Bob's your uncle.


Wil Meyers isn't ready, he's started slow in AAA this year. but hes only a hot streak away. Jake Odorizzi is probably ready to compete for a backend rotation spot though.

What? They traded those guys to get older and add $15m per year in payroll to win now? Are they winning now?

Obviously Shields as been lights out so far, but I'm still not paying $15m a year for him if I have to start the carcass of Wade Davis, let alone giving up prospects too.

And while paying it to Kyle Lohse in order to keep Wil and Jake would have made this team slightly worse (assuming Jake could have bettered Wade Davis' awful starts) at least it would still have a future. Given their limited farm system, and market bottom payroll, that's no longer true.
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 26, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4452526)
What the Royals need is what the A's came up with one year ago: DFA some of the clowns in the lineup and promote a minor-leaguer or two who will hit the snot out of the ball the rest of the way. And Bob's your uncle.

They promote minor-leaguers all the time, and none of them ever hit any snot out of any ball. That's the entire point.
   13. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: May 26, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4452544)
Dare I say it...but I think the A's might have better scouts than the Royals, at least when it comes to finding talent other teams don't have a need for.
   14. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 26, 2013 at 05:37 PM (#4452660)
Dare I say it...but I think the A's might have better scouts than the Royals,


Someone ought to write a book about that.
   15. The District Attorney Posted: May 26, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4452666)
BTW, Poz posted this on Saturday morning, and by 5:30 PM that evening, Rex Hudler had tweeted:
Small ball is the key to jumping out of this rut fans! Every team goes through it at some point, have to get creative to climb out! #royals

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